Getting a little spicy can reduce the risk of some diseases.
Long used in folk medicine to increase circulation and prevent nausea, ginger has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and may inhibit the growth of certain cancers. tips: Stir minced ginger into vinaigrette, toss cooked green beans with grated ginger and sesame seeds, or add candied ginger to baked goods.
• Hot peppers
Capsaicin, the compound that gives hot peppers their fiery bite, has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve arthritis pain. New studies show capsaicin may also prevent gastric ulcers and reduce the risk of prostate and gastric cancers. tips: Add cayenne pepper to steamed vegetables, stir finely minced serrano peppers into cooked black beans, or sprinkle chili powder on popcorn.
This brilliant yellow spice gets its coloring from curcumin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Studies suggest that curcumin lowers cholesterol, reduces cancer risk, and may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. tips: Add turmeric and cardamom to brown rice, sprinkle it on cooked vegetables, or whisk into low-fat mayonnaise for a spicy dressing or spread.
This sweet, mild spice has antimicrobial properties and contains antioxidant phenolic compounds. Recent studies show that cinnamon lowers blood glucose, improves lipid profiles, and may help protect against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. tips: Sprinkle it on hot cereal, stir into chai tea, or add cinnamon and honey to baked yams or winter squash.